|Best Events of 1998|
What do YOU think?
A Forest Glen fan!
What Were YOUR Favorites in 1998?
As the year ends, you may want to check out the Archive of Dance Reviews to go back over
every day of dancing in 1998. If you have particular favorites,
let us know by sending an e-mail to Memories of 1998.
Sue Fedor leads off the parade:
From: Sue Fedor
This is my second annual YEAR IN REVIEW. Last year, I listed my
top ten events. This year, with Forest Glen Ballroom kicking
into gear, it has become more difficult---mostly cuz I'm very
biased. But here goes....
- Veteran's Day at Forest Glen
Ballroom: Attendence wise, this was not the biggest draw, but
talent wise, you couldn't ask for a better combination of great
music (Tom Cunningham), plus live radio drama (Metro DC Radio
Club). Mike Henry is truly a renaissance man, both dancing and
acting. Of all the events I participated in and attended this
year, this one generated the strongest reactions from
participants and observers. As with all our FGB events, but
mostly with this one, we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our
friend, Matthew Wilkens, our audio technician and all our
- Boogie Baren, Munchen: Oddly enough, we ended up
trekking all the way to Germany for our first dance camp. Marcus
and Barbl really know how to run a camp. The lodging was
spectacular, yet extremely economical (where else can you live
inside a walled fortress for $15 / day?) We reacquainted
ourselves with Erik & Sylvia, met their friends, Tyra and Rich,
met Rusty Frank, Rob van Haaren, and Diane Thomas. I got to mush
my way through some bad boogie woogie and back lead a bunch of
lindy beginners. I can now count to eight in seven languages.
- Buskering in Bern, Switzerland: This is what you get
when all your friends are artists and bohemians. David, Steve's
friend from high school, is an artist now living in Bern. He
collects interesting friends who live on the margins of society.
Two of those friends are buskers (travelling street performers).
They played the swing music while we danced in the streets of
Bern, earning enough money to pay for a tank of gas for our trip
to Zurich. We also got to meet David's neighbors, "The Hot
Strings of Bern". We danced on David's roof while they
practiced "Lady Be Good" next door.
- Bill Elliot Trio at Forest Glen
great things come in small packages. Given Matt's expert audio
assistance and some great equipment, this trio (plus one) really
raised the rafters! Jammers particularly liked the drum set up
and short roll highlighting each move. What a night!
- Rockin' Bonz at Glen Echo: Great
50's sounds, silly
European news photographers running around, and Cameron in his
goofy "Leave it to Beaver" glasses.
- Weddings.... Not to play favorites, I am lumping them
altogether. Chrissy and Mike's Wedding
O'Dell and her He-Man Orchestra. Always a treat. Marcus and
Barbl were the special guest stars, as was a vintage car around
which we all posed for pictures. Chrissy changed her outfit
almost as many times as Peaches. Randi-Sue and Howie's Wedding
found us in Long Island, NY on Independence Day. The
band was great and our small, but mighty band of intrepid dancers
jammed to Lindy, disco, and Klezmer music without prejudice.
Both weddings were full of spirit, family, great music and fun.
We spend so much time dancing for fun and recreation, but it was
at these two events where I was reminded that we also dance to
- The Hangar Dance in
Frederick: This is really becoming a
perennial favorite. This year featured a much better band, Swing
Shift. They left the hangar doors open and there was a cool
breeze. Highlights include free barbequed chicken and watching
Tricia dance with the Nazis (ok, they weren't real Nazis, they
were German soldiers, not necessarily Nazi party members....)
- BATTLE OF THE BANDZ....: It is # 8 and not higher
because we were working behind the scenes. It was the first
night that the Park Service started strictly enforcing fire
codes, so things weren't particularly pleasant. The jam was
incredible and would have been even better had we not been in
it---I have not yet gotten my revenge out on Tom Koerner for that
yet...just you wait. Special highlight was the seamless
transition during "Sing, Sing, Sing" between Tom
Cunningham & George Gee.
- J Street Jumpers at Forest
Glen, Halloween Eve: A surprisingly successful Friday night
arrived from work to find the ballroom completely decorated by
Rich, one of our board members. Without going into detail, Steve
gave me a rubber, severed arm for Christmas one year (he's
strange that way) and it really came in handy for the dance and
for Marianna's unique rendition of "All of Me."
- Peaches O'Dell at Glen Echo
in August (8/15/98): It was hot, I
was wearing my vintage two-piece purchased from Ellen W. and I
did not destroy it in the jam. That was the jam where we
unveiled our latest aerial where I go up on Steve's shoulders,
fall back, and do a flip at the end. Guys were taking bets as to
whether my top would survive, which it did, thanks to two
strategically placed safety pins!
The Lady in Red
From: Elizabeth Weaver
Elizabeth's "Best of 1998" dance picks, in no
- VSO: Even though we didn't
compete, it was dynamite.
We had gone to one evening of VSO 1997, which was our
introduction to Lindy Hop and the motivating force in getting us
into Tom & Debra's beginner class last November. This year
we did the whole thing, watching all the competitions (and
understanding what we were watching!), taking workshops,
dancing...it was an incredible weekend. It was also amazing to
sit back and realize how much our lives have changed in the past
year. We went from people who figured we'd never be able to
dance and who didn't know anyone in our new city to reasonably
competent members of the dance community. What a wonderful year
it's been gang! Next year I think we might even compete - don't
laugh, it could happen!
- Armed Forces Day Dance
at Glen Echo: It was an
evening of firsts: first vintage dress (fortunately no others
have yet suffered the same fate!), first vintage ‘do, first time
we saw ourselves on tape, first major ego-building compliments on
our dancing from the ever-encouraging Mr. Jim Kranyak - and, most
notably, first jam. It only took us 6 months, but we were
finally ready to perform. Or rather, Jim was finally ready to
perform and sprang it on me at the edge of the circle seconds
before we went out. Everyone was so supportive of us, too, which
really helped as a first jam is a nerve-wracking experience to be
- Our first trip to Vienna
Grille last January 13, when
PsychoBoy danced with me for the first time, Frank
taught us traveling Charleston, and we both participated in our
first birthday lineups. This was the first time I felt like
"part of the gang" - I think it was all that cake that
- The Sevilles: benefit at
the American Legion in
Cheverly on January 31: 50s rock-n-roll and bikers. What more
could you ask
for? It was a very wacky, very fun cross cultural experience.
- Roomful of Blues at Hollywood
Ballroom on April 11. Many things
about the evening were somewhat disappointing, but it was great
mostly because we got to hang with the fabulous "Poetry in
Motion" hand dancers, which planted the seed in our minds
- Our DC Hand Dance lessons with Smooth N EZ. We're
still at the "we suck" stage, but I'm really glad we
did them and will be continuing to do them starting this week.
The Hand Dancers are great people and excellent dancers, and I
think it's really important to learn and keep alive our own
regional swing variations.
- The J Street Jumpers recording
session at BET: This
was the first time we'd been asked to perform. Yes, I look at
the tape now and am horribly embarrassed that it's going to show
up on TV at some point. But I love the Jumpers, and it was a
really fun and good experience for us in helping us overcome our
performance anxiety - you know, when your mind blanks out, your
arms go spaghetti, and your feet become glued to the floor?
Well, we're almost past that now, thanks in no small part to the
- Script writing parties at in May and June:
We ate, we talked, we ate, we danced, we ate, we wrote, we ate,
we acted silly, we ate, we edited...see a pattern? The group
really had a lot of fun
bouncing ideas off each other and encouraging each other to new
heights of absurdity, and we were all constantly amazed at the
amount of fruit Steve was able to put away. Jim still laughs
about the trip to the grocery store where we were standing there
in the produce aisle picking out the evening's fruit selection
when, to his suggestion of kiwi, I responded: "But Steve
doesn't like kiwi!"
- The Montreal Jazz Festival:
I've come to the
conclusion that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is following us. We had a
wonderfully relaxing vacation as we always do at jazz festivals,
we got to hear lots of great music and eat lots of great food,
and we found some great stuff at Drags. But the best part was
meeting new swing scene folks from a different city. Everyone we
met up there was so welcoming and so into Lindy and our dancing,
and we had a really grand time hanging with them for the rest of
the week. Dance is truly a universal language, and dancers are a
world-wide community. Maybe, just maybe, the solution to
achieving world peace is to teach everyone to swing dance - Nobel
Peace Prize in the future for all our intrepid DC instructors?
- Tom and Debra's Parade of Bands - Lavay Smith, George Gee, Indigo Swing, Nick Palumbo,
Dan Electro, New Morty Show...I think I'm
probably missing some here...T&D have done
a fabulous job of getting great bands from all over the country
to come to DC and play real dance venues like CCB and Forest
Glen, instead of wasting their talent and music on club crowds
who don't know how to dance and who don't appreciate them. Let's
hear it for our favorite local promoters!
- ALHC: Sure, it had its problems
(actually, if you
believe the gossip, there were far more problems than we were all
aware of at the time). But it was MCed by the incomparable Norma
Miller, it featured Marcus and Barbl, Sylvia Sykes, and Sing Lim
as teachers, and we got to see, meet, and dance with those
fabulous kids from Ithaca. And the DC area was very well
represented in the competitions and among the winners.
- New Year's Eve with Rockin' Bonz at Glen Echo: It was
freezing, but I love the Bonz and I hadn't been out to the
Spanish Ballroom since October and the institution of the 2 dance
format. What a wonderful way to ring in the New Year - dancing
to one of my favorite bands on one of my favorite floors with
many of my favorite people.
Here's to another fine year of dancing ahead!
Lisa Morgan Brown
The celebrated Lisa Morgan
From: Lisa Morgan
Since this is my "first annual" year as a lindy
hopper, I will address all my highlights!
A brief history: I started my lindy life in classes at Glen
Echo in June. My first experience with Tom and Debra (and Steve
and Carla) came at Zones, also in June... around this same time I
was exposed to a dance at Forest Glen. I don't even know who was
playing that night. (That was before I knew names and faces, even
though I did notice the really good little Asian guy on the dance
floor.) Then I discovered the open dancing on Mondays at Chevy
Chase when I dropped in on the New Morty Show on a Monday night.
That must have been in August. Well after that, I started coming
to the open dancing on Mondays on a regular basis, risking life
and limb as I raced from the class at Glen Echo to CCB--in 10
minutes or less. And now, the highlights of this seven month
period, in chronological order, (más o menos):
- Indigo Swing and J Street Jumpers (separately)
at Kemp Mill records downtown at lunch time. However brief, I
love the lindy-in-the-middle-of-the-day concept. (I also really
like that it's only 2 blocks from where I work downtown!)
- Purchasing Bleyers
It's true... This act was merely an indicator of my increasing
- 12th Annual Savoy Swings Again camp, in September,
over Labor day weekend. That hurtled me into full obsession of
the lindy hop, to where I am today. It also gave me the chance to
meet so many wonderful people, gals and guys, both new and
experienced, in the Lindy scene.
- The MAJOR milestone (and best highlight) was finding a
partner for footwork and aerials. Yes, that little Asian guy,
CAMERON! He's the best dance partner in the world!! Most of you
already know what a great guy Cameron is. I would just like to
say that all the good things about him are true. I have a lot of
respect for him... We've been partners since October, and now
we're a tour de force! (?) I've learned so much from him!
- Learning aerials with Cameron! This is also very fun. We have
a good time and he doesn't drop or injure me. Thanks to everyone
who helps us by showing us moves and so on: Tom & Debra,
Steve & Sue, Jeff, Naomi, Nina, Carolyn, Steve, Carla, Jim
Kranyak, Iver, Eric, and everyone else!
- My Birthday Dance on Monday
October 26, 1998 at Chevy Chase ballroom, where Bernstein was
persuaded against his will to play a birthday song for me. It was
a real treat for me, so I hope he feels it was worth it to
disrupt the momentum.
- New Year's Eve at Glen Echo. This was a first for me,
to experience the new year lindy hopping. And to Rockin' Bonz, no
less. They were fantastic! New Year's Day, 1999, at America with
the Tom Cunningham Orchestra.
All of these venues have been a highlight for me at one time
or another, so I want to include them on my list:
- Chevy Chase Ballroom
- Glen Echo
- The Birchmere
These are the highlights of my first year as a lindy hopper.
Thanks to my favorite partner Cameron, Frank for this
web page, Tom and Debra for constantly bringing in new blood, and
everyone who keeps it interesting!
To all the new people, keep it up! Here's to a 1999 full of
lindy hopping fun!
-Lisa Morgan Brown
Matt Smiley and Gretta Thorn
Our UVA College Correspondents
From: Matt Smiley
Here are my top three picks:
- 3. New Years Eve At Glen Echo. This was my first huge event
since coming back from school and it was just what I needed.
Everybody was there, Rockin' Bones lived up to their name, and
the ballroom was just the right temperature (so long as you kept
dancing!). Everybody was in high spirits and the event was a
beautiful 2 year Lindy aniversary for me. Technically I've been
dancing for three years now (I technically started in 1996, the
last three hours of '96, but '96 all the same). I truly had a
blast that night.
- 2. US Open in Los Angeles. Ok, so I walked away from the
actual event blinded by the rhinestone belts and Bedazzler
enhanced outfits, but I give the US Open high marks because the
event was redeemed by the scene in LA. The scene in LA opened my
eyes both to real vintage fashion and to Hollywood style dancing.
The vintage stores out there were unlike anything I'd ever seen
around here. There wasn't just one solitary rack of guys' stuff
with one or two good things thrown in with junk from the 70s.
There were whole sections of guys clothing devoted to menswear
from the 40s and 50s. It was incredible. I was a fool not to
have bought more while I was there. As far as the dancing was
concerned, it was just amazing. I had an epiphany when I was out
there. I thought I had a decent Hollywood style swingout, but
now after seeing what those kids were doing, I feel almost
ridiculous for my nievety. The dancers out there were amazingly
smooth. This trip totataly changed my style of dancing, and now
I can't help but dance in a slot. The scene was undescribably
cool and my feeble attempt here just doesn't do it justice.
- 1. The American Lindy Hop
Championships in NJ: It was tough to chose between the trip
to CA and the trip to NJ, but in the end NJ won out for top
billing on my list. If you weren't there, you missed the coolest
atmosphere in the world. The atmosphere generated by 200 Lindy
Hoppers in one place is what made this event great. Sure, the
hotel sucked and was (in my book) a huge rip off. Sure, some
people had some problems collecting earnings. Sure, my videos of
the event are being eagerly anticipated (weeks after the
estimated arrival time). Despite all the unfortunate details of
the event, I couldn't have had a better time. The best Lindy
Hoppers in the world all gathered under one roof to celebrate the
one thing we all had in common. It was a blast. So many
memories of this events stick in my mind: The fabulous
performers, that wierd butterfly chick in the costume contest,
dancing until 4 in the morning, our overflowing toilet, my
embarrassing Freudian slip in front of Sylvia Skylar (long
story), Earnie Smith's rad video compilation, and the list just
goes on forever. If I could relive one event ever, this would be
the one. Woe to those of you who missed it. Sadly, I heard
rumors that it doesn't look like it will happen again next year,
so I'm glad I made the trek up to NJ. This one will be hard to
top in 99. We'll see, though.
Lisa Morgan Brown and Cameron
Blazing their way into 1999
Here is my Top Ten List
- The Battle of the Bands Weekend at Glen Echo: George
Gee v. The Tom Cunningham Orchestra; Erik Robson and Sylvia
Skylar workshops; Marcus and Barbel; and dancing with the
legendary Jean Veloz. Need I say more?
- My Aerial's partner, Lisa Morgan Brown: She has been and
continues to be the best partner I've ever had. At first, I
thought I could do aerials with her only to find out that she
learns quickly and has great foot work. I don't think I can for
more in a partner.
- College/ High School Kids: The kids injected youth and
enthusiasm. They also lowered the average age of the dance
community by a decade. Whether you like having them around or
not, they have made us all better dancers. Thanks John, Sarah
and Alex Fajakowski , Gretta Thorn, Catherine Sanchez &
Andrews, Helen Soln, Mara Levy, Little Alex, Teresa Egan, Kelli
Dinglemyer, Sarah Jacobson., Nina & Naomi, and Matt Smiley.
- Tom Koerner and Deb Sternberg: They are open to new ideas.
They took the risk and brought Erik and Sylvia out here to teach
us Hollywood and Collegiate Shag before the dances became
popular. They helped open new venues (Nick's, America, LuLus,
Zones, etc..) And brought in great bands (Indigo Swing, the New
Morty Show, George Gee, etc..). While they get a bad rap
sometimes for big crowds at their dance lessons and venues, this
is really only a mark of their success. Washington Post may be
right when they called them the "Godparents of the D.C.
- Hollywood Lindy: Jean Veloz inspired me, Erik and Sylvia
taught me, Jim Kranyak insured I didn't forget it.
- Forest Glen Ballroom: Steve and Sue introduced the swing
community to the beautiful ballroom at Forest Glen. I will never
forget the comments of first time visitors when they saw the
ballroom for the first time, "Oh, my God", "Holy
- Steve and Sue's House. Parties, practice on the hard wooden
floor, or a place to sleep. Steve and Sue opened their house me
when I needed a place to sleep on an Army Reserve weekend, place
to practice new moves, and invited me over to one of their many
- Armed Forces Day Dance at Glen Echo: This was the day we
discovered Jim Kranyak had a digital video camera.
- Dance Contests (VSO, NESDC, ALHC, Zones, Lulus, Glen Echo):
Whether competing for the cheap Bahama's trip at Lulu's or
dancing for water at TCO's Glen Echo dance. I had fun dancing.
Thanks to Gator for the fast lindy song at NESDC so Sarah and I
could win. Thanks to Hutch for allowing the Juniors to compete
in overall competitions at VSO. Finally, thanks to Lisa, Vicki,
Gretta, Sarah F., Sue Fedor, Little Erika, Heather, Chrissy E.,
Carla H., Mara, and Naomi for competing with me in these dance
- Savoy Swings Again at Buffalo Gap: The Washington Swing Dance
Committee put on a great event. J Street Jumpers and the Love
Dogs were great Bands. Andrew & Sing and Sylvia &
Jonathan were great instructors and made the event memorable.
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